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Malayalam is spoken by about six million people in Southern India. 
Malayalam or Makyarma (Malayayma) is usually deriyed from mala, mountain, and 
NameoftheUnguag*. ^^^^'^^' ^ ^^^ derived from ah to possess. According to 

Bishop Caldwell the best translation of the word would be 
* mountain region.' It accordingly properly applies to the country, and not to the 
language- The first part of the word is identical with MaXc, whence the pepper comes, 
in Cosmas Indicopleustes' Christian Topography (about 545 A.D.). It also forms the 
first component in the word Malabar, which apparently occurs for the first time in the 
Geography of Edrisi (about A.D. 1150). Compare Maler, the name of another Dravi- 
dian tribe. 

The old Sanslcrit nnme foi* the Malayalam country was Kerala, which woi'd occurs 
in Malnyalamin theforms Kerajam, Cheralam, and Cheram. An inhabitant of the 
country is also called Kelan or Kelu, and this word has been comp'^red by Bishop Cald- 
well with Pliny's Krfpofio^po^, 'Kernla' occurs as early as in the A66ka iuscriptions 
(third century B.C.). 

The Malayalam language has no separate denomination. The old Aryans did not 
distinguish it from Tamil, and it is only at a relatively modern date that it has branched 
off from that form of speech. 

Malayajam is spoken along the western coast from Kasargodu in the north to 
Area within Which spoken. Trivaudrum in the south. The eastern frontier is the 

western Ghats, and on the west the Malayalam cotmtry is 
bounded by the Arabian Sea. It covers the southern part of South Canara, the whole of 
Malabar and Cochin, with numerous settlers in the adjoining parts of Mysore and Nilgiri, 
and, lastly, the greatest part of Travaneore. Outside this territory the language is only 
spoken by a few settlers. 

In South Canara Malayalam is bounded by Tiilu. In Coorg it meets Kudagu, and 
Linguistic Boundaries. itg eastom neighbours are Kanarese and Tamil. 

Like the rest of the literary Dravidian languages Malayalam has two different 
^. , ^ forms, one used in old literature, and the other the collo- 


quial form of si)eech. The literary dialect is still more 
closely connected with Tamil than the colloquial language. The principal point of 
difference from Tamil is the greater proportion of Sanskrit loan words. While Tamil 
has the smallest admixture of sueli foreign elements among all literary Dravidian 
languages, Malayalam is the most Sanskritized of them all, and even admits the con- 
jugational forms of that language. Some productions of educated authors have been 
described as * pure Sanskrit connected or concluded by a few words in Malayalam,' 
just as we have Ilindostiini books written almost entirely in Persian. 

The colloquial languaire differ-? slightly according to locality, but we have no 
information about the existence of definite Malayalam dialects. Yerava has been 
3*etnrned as sneh a form of speech from Coorg, and the figures for that dialect have, 
therefore, been added to those returned for Malayalam. It is, how<*ver, possible thai 
Yerava is in reality identical with Yerukala. which has been dealt with above as a dia- 
lect of Tamil. 

According to the reports of the Censuses of 1891 and 1901 Malayalara was spoken as 
Number of speakers, ^ home language in the following districts : — 

Centus of 1891. CeniOB of 1901. 

SnutBOanara ..,.••.• 191,696 217,856 

Malabar • , . 2,481,974 2,624,263 

Travancore .....••.. 2,079,271 2,420,049 

Cochia ....,,... 641,738 715,847 

Nilgiris 8,775 4,759 

Coorg 11,299 14,039 

Mysore ......... 1,500 3,121 




Malayalam was, to a small extent, spoken ontside the territory where it is a rernaoular. 
L^he figures given in the Census reports of 1891 and 1901 were as follows : — 

Andamans and Nicobars 

Baluchistan , 

Bengal Presidency 

Berar . • . 

Bombay Presidency 


Central Provinces . 

Madras Presidency 

Nortb- Western Frontier 


United Provinces . 

Hyderabad . 


Censua of 1801. 

Ceasiis of liiOl 



■ •!• 


• •« 


• •• 




• .. 















Yerava was returned as the dialect of 2,687 and, in 1901, 13,175 individuals in Coorg, 
By adding all these figures we arrive at the following total for Malayajam :— 

Census of 1891. Ceiisut of 1001. 

Spoken at home by ....... 5,419,253 5,999,934 

Spoken abroad by ....... 4,139 9,022 

Yerava - . 2,587 13,175 





According to Dr. Gundert, the history of Malayalam literature commences with the 

Eamncharita (13th or 14th century) . Before that time the lan- 
guage had been used in a few inscriptions. The oldest Mala- 
yalam literature imitated Tamil poetry, and not Sanskrit, Later the literary productions 
of the Malayalam country came under the spell of the sacred tongue of Aryan India, and 
the great Sanskrit epics were translated. The classical epoch of Malayalam literature begin 
with Tuiljattu Eruttachchhan (17th century) #ho is said to have introduced the modem 
alphabet. He translated the Mahabharata and some of the Pura^as. Towards the end 
of the 18th century we find Kufijan Nambiar, the author of several comedies and songs, 
and perhaps also of some translations from the Sanskrit, such as the Paiichatantra, the 
Nalacharita, etc. 


Malayalam literature further comprises several folk sougs and folk tales, the 
historical work Keralotpattit some medical works, etc. 

Tipu's inrasiou dealt a fatal blow to Malayalam poetry, and in modern times 
European missionaries and their native converts have been the principal supporters of 
the vernactdar literature of the Malayalam country. For further details the student is 
referred to the works mentioned under authorities below. 

There is no refeirence to the Malayalam language in old Sanskrit literature. It 
^ ,^ .,, was included in the Drdvida bhdshd. i.e., Tamil, of Kumarila 

Authorities. , • > j » 

Bhatta, and did not in fact branch off from that language 
till a later period. The oldest mention of Malayalam as a separate form of speech seems 
to be found in Femao Lopez de Castanheda's Mutoria do descobrimento e conquista da 
India. Coimbra, 1551-1561. We here read, Vol. ii, p. 78, *A lingua dos Gentios de 
Canara e Malabar.' See Colonel Yule's JSobson^Jobson^ under the heading Malabar, where 
another reference is quoted, taken from A de Gouvea's Jornada do Arcepiscopo de Goa^ 
ID. Frey Aleixo de Menezes, Coimbra, 1606. 

A Portuguese grammar with a Malayalam vocabulary was published in 1733. See 
the list of authorities given below. Portuguese and Italian missionaries are stated to 
have completed a Malayalam dictionary in 1746, based on materials accumulated in the 
17th, perhaps even in the 16th, century. 

The German Jesuit Johann Ernst Hanleden, who died in 1732, is stated by Fra 
Paolino to have written a ' Malabar * grammar, which does not seem to have been 
printed* Other grammars were written by Pater Clemens, Kome, 1784, and by Robert 
Drummond, Bombay, 1799, and in 1781 J. Adam Cellarius published some notes on the 
language. Compare below. In modern times several works on the laDguage have been 
published, among which Dr. Gundert's grammar is facile princeps. This admirable 
book is, however, written in Malayalam, and a scientific grammar of the language in a 
European form of speech is not as yet forthcoming. 

The Malayalam alphabet was described in Clemens Peanius* Alphabetum GrandO' 
nico^ Malabar icum Samscrudomciim^ Rome, 1772. 

The first printed book in Malayalam seems to have been the Symbolum ApostoH* 
cnm^ printed in 1713 at an unknown place. Clemens Peanius issued a catechism in 
1772, and specimens of the language were afterwards given by Hervas and others. See 
the list printed below. The Old Testament in Malayalam appeared at Cottayam in 

The list of authorities which follows is by no means complete. It only roisters 
some of the principal works dealing witl^ Malayajam : — 


Symbolum apostoUoum in lingua Malalarica. No place. 1713. 

Grammatica Fortugueza hum toeuhulario 9m Poriugucz e Malahar, Tranqutbar, 1733. 
Clemens Pi^AmvBt^^Aljphabitum Qrandonico'Malaharuum Sam$crudmicum . Komac, 1772. ComtaiiiB the 
Lord's pia)?er in Malay a]am on p. 9Q% 

MAliAlTALAH. 351 

ESS PlANHJS,— Oowptfndtarta legis 9xpUcatio omnibus OhrManis sqUu n9C9$$ana, Mahhdrioo 
idiomate, Bomae, 1772. 
wiiLLAEius, Jo. ADkUi^Bemmrkungen Uber He Spraehe, Wi8$en$ohafien und KUmh cUr Mahharen. Bata" 

vische yerhandelingen, 1781, Part iii. 
Clemens de Jisu,— (Jramwa^wa Malahara, Romae, 1784 

Hervas T PANDtrao, LoRBNZO,*— Fooabti^anojpoltgrloifo con proUgomeni sopra pih d% ol Ungue. Cesena, 

1786, ContaiDs, on p. 163, 63 words in Malayalam. 
9) — 8agg%0 praUioo delle Ungue con prolegomeni e una racoUa di Orazioni Do* 

minicali in pih di trecento Ungue dialeiti, Oesena, 1787. The Lord's 
Prayer in Malayalam on p. 138 and p. 141. 
Glossarium Oomparativum Unguarum Miu$ orhis. St. Petersbttrg, 1787. The Malayalam words con- 
tained in this worK were very incorrect. They wore reprinted, with oorreotioQs by Fra Paolino, 

Alter, Franz Cabl,— tf6er die Samshrdamische Spraehe, Wien, 179i. 

Drcticmond, Robert,— Grammar 0/ the Malabar Language, Bombay, 1799. 

Adeluno, JoHANN CmiSTOm, ---Mithridates oder allgemeine Spraohenhunde mii dem Vater TTmer aU 
8praohprobe in hey nahe fUnfhundert Spraohen und Mundarten, Fonr Tolumes. Berlin, 1806- 
1817. Notes on MalaySjam, with account of older works, Vol i, pp. 209 and ff. j Vol. ir, np. 68 
and ff. ^ 

SpRiNO, F., — Outlines of a Grammar of the Malayalim Language, as spoken in the Provinces of North and 
South Malabar and the Kingdoms of Travancore and Ooehin. Madras, 1839, 

Peet, Ret. Joskph,— --4 Grammar of the Malayalim Language, dedicated by permission to Mis Mighnese 
the Bajah of Travancore. Cottajam, 1841. Second edition, t6., 1860. 

Bailey, Rev. B., — A Dictionary of Sigh and Oolloguial Malayalim and English, dedicated by permission 
to Mis Mighness th^ Bajah of Travanc&re, Cottayam, 1846. 
„ -^A Dictionary, English and Malayalim. Cottayam, 1849. Second edition, ib,, 1868. 

Elliott [Elliot], W.,— 06ser«ah'o«j on the Language of the Goands and the identity of many of its terms 
with words now in use in the Telugu^ Tamil and Oanarese. Journal of the Asiatic Society of 
Bengal, Vol. xvi, Part ii, 1847, pp. 1140 and ff. Vocabularies on pp. 1144 and ff. 

Hodgson, B. R.,^Aborigines of Southern India. Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal, Vol. x?iii, 
Part i, 1849, ipf, 350 and ff. Reprinted in Miscellaneous Mssays relating to Indian Subjeots 
Vol. ii, London, 1880, pp. 152 and ff. Vocabnlaries by W. Elliot, on pp. 352 and ft., pp. 154 
and ff,, respectively. 

Arbuthnott, a. 3., --Malayalam Selections with Translations, Grammatical Analysis and Vocabulary, 
Cottayam, 1851. 

LaserOn, Rev. E., — A Dictionary of the Malayalim and English and the English and Malayalim Lan* 
guages, Cottayam, 1850. 

GcNDEET, H., — A Oatechism of Malayalam Grammar bangalore, 1860. Third edition reyised, re- 
arranged, enlarged and translated by L. Garthwaite. Mangalore, 1881. 

JonN, V,,^An Anglo'Malafjalam Vocabulary and Phrase Booh. Cottayam, 1860. 

First Malayalim Translator. A Course of fifty Lessons, with a Vooahulary, Third edition. Mangalore 

A Vocabtdary of English and Malayalim words. Cottayam, 1868. 

Malabarico^Latina Grammatica. Cochin, 1868. 

Matthan, Rev. Qeoroe, — Malayalam Grammar. 1 have not seen the correct title ol this book, which is 
written * in the language itself \ and was printed in 1868. 

GuNDERT, Ret. 1H..,^A Grammar of the Malayalam Language. MangalorOi 1868, Witrten in Malayalam* 

Beuttleb, Rev. J. S., — English and Malayalim Text Book (for Natives), Cottayam, 1869. 

English and Malayalam School Dictionary. Mangalore, 1870. 

Malayalam and English School Dictionary, Mangalore, 1870. 

Campbell, Sir George, — Specimens of Languages of India. Calcutta, 1874. Malayft|am on pp. 44 
and ff. 

GoNDiRT, Rev. H., — A Mdlayalam and English Dictionary. Mangalore, 1872. 

Malayalam and English Vocabulary. Tellicherry, 1877, 

GoviNDA PiLLAT,— JETw^ori/ of the Malayalam Language and Literature, in Malayalam, 1881. The title 
has been taken from Mr. Frohnmeyer*s Grammar. 

[SiKEMiEB, W., AND C. Watsa], — A Polyglott Vocabulary, English, German, Oanarese, Tulu and Malaya^ 
lam, containing 1,600 of the mo^t uxAful words of the Language cldssified under praetical 


headingi andprint$d in far dlel oolumm both in the Vemamlar ttnd in Bomcn Lett^n. Manga- 

lore, 1880. 
Grjims's Ghtiary of Wordi and Phraiei relating to tlie Land Ttnnru and Land A$i€Mm$nti of Mala* 

bar, tifith notei and etymological headingt, (Edited, with a pre&iorj note, by W. Logan.) 

Madras, 1882. Reprinted in W. Logan, Malabar, Madraa, 1887, Vol. ii, Appendix 25. 
Manual of the Adminietraiion of the Madrae Preiidency, Madias, 1885-189S. Painm. 
FaoHNiiiTiR, L, J.,—- il Pfogreeeive Qrammar of the Malay alam Lmngnage for Europeane. Mangalore, 

Matayalim-Latin-BngUih I>iotiona'y by a discalced Carw^Ute mimtmary of the Terapoly arehdiocese, 

Verapoly, 1891. 
PanGhatantram edited in Malayalamuith notes' and vcoahulary, by L. QarthmiU. Mangalore, 1^7. 
T. K. Kbishma MiHOir, — Hfotee on Malay alam Literature^ Jomtnal of the Eqyal Asiatic Sociefrf, 1^00, 

pp. 763 and ff. 



G. A. GRIERSON, CLE., Ph.D., DXitt., (retd.) 




ASHOK RAJ PATH, (opp. patna college) PATNA (bihar) 

With kind permission of Govt, of India, 

FmsT Edition 1927 

reprint 1967 

Priee Rs. 1250/- ($ 200) for the complete set*